Rose: Hymns – “All Glory, Laud, and Honor”

“All Glory, Laud, and Honor” is a hymn traditionally sung on Palm Sunday. Though the words, of course, reference the passages of Scripture about the Triumphal Entry and were written for that day, the story goes that this hymn only became known because of an Emperor’s change of heart.

This hymn was written by a Spanish-born French bishop named Theodulf, who served during the reigns of Charlemagne and his son Louis the Pious. Theodulf founded multiple schools in the Frankish empire, built beautiful chapels, wrote many hymns, produced various written works – political and otherwise – and supported the various liberal arts. Despite the favor he found in Charlemagne’s eyes, Theodulf fell out of favor with Louis and was falsely imprisoned. But during that time, he wrote his famous hymn “Gloria, laus et honor.” It is said that while Theodulf was in prison, Louis came by on Palm Sunday and heard Theodulf singing his hymn. Louis’ heart was changed and, so the story goes, freed Theodulf. He also stated this hymn had to be sung every Palm Sunday. Unfortunately, Theodulf’s former status was never regained, and he died shortly after in 821.

Though it is left to debate whether or not this hymn was made official by Louis the Pious, the words were definitely written with Palm Sunday and Scripture in mind. This Latin hymn originally had 39 rhyming couples, but now only the first 12 lines are used. The verses we recognize today come from a text once held by St. Gall. These were eventually translated into English by John Neale in the 1850’s, when the hymn became popular and known again. The tune, however, is much older, and it was shortly before this time that the story of this hymn’s “rise in status” story originated. The tune put to Neale’s translation was written for a separate hymn: a 1600’s Lutheran hymn called “Valet will ich dir geben” by Valerius Herberger and put to music by Melchior Teschner.

The first two couplets have now become the chorus for the song today, presented here in their original Latin and their shift to Modern English.

Orignal Latin

Gloria, laus et honor
tibi sit Rex Christe, Redemptor,
Cui puerile decus prompsit
hosanna pium.

Middle English

Wele, herying and worshipe be to Christ that dere ous boughte,

To wham gradden ‘Osanna’ children clene of thoughte.

Modern English

All glory, laud, and honor
to you, Redeemer, King,
to whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring.

 

All glory, laud, and honor
to you, Redeemer, King,
to whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring.
You are the King of Israel
and David’s royal Son,
now in the Lord’s name coming,
the King and Blessed One.

The foundation of this hymn comes from the Triumphal Entry, or Palm Sunday, Scripture passages (Zec. 9:9-10, Mat. 21:1-17, Mark 11:1-10, Luke 19:28-40, John 12:12-16). The first lines nearly quote Paul in his letter to Timothy when he praises the Lord (1 Tim. 1:17). These lines sung by us today and the people then echo many Psalms that praise the Lord. But here, we can image the people singing praises and glory to their King, showing Him honor by making a clean path for Him, and asking him for His salvation, even if they did not know how He was going to do it. They shouted “Hosanna!”, which means “Save, we pray.”

But notice what else: the children are singing “Hosanna!” as well. They, too, are a part of Christ’s Church, Christ’s praise, Christ’s love. How much do we in church today need to remember Christ’s Words: “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise” (Mat. 18:14, 21:15-16, Psa. 8:2).

The last four lines teach and remind us of Jesus’ lineage to David (Mat. 1:1-17). He is the One foretold who will save us, who has saved us! This is why the gates are welcoming the Christ, why we are praising Him, why He deserves all glory, praise, and honor (Psa. 24:1-10, 29). The same will be sung also at the end of days (Rev. 5:11-12, 7:10-12). We praise and called “Blessed” the Christ who came in the Name of the Lord because His eternal love was shed on us that we might be made righteous before Him (Psa. 118:1-29, Isa. 53:1-12).

The company of angels
is praising you on high;
and we with all creation
in chorus make reply.
The people of the Hebrews
with palms before you went;
our praise and prayer and anthems
before you we present.

These next couple lines echo the beginning: we praise the Lord with the angels, who have been doing so since the beginning (Rev. 5:11-12, 7:10-12, Psa. 103:19-22). The last lines paint a picture of what the Triumphal Entry might have looked like as the people praised the Lord with palms and songs of praise. In the same way, we praise the King of Glory. We are also reminded here the God did create and His creation is to worship Him (Psa. 19:1-4, 24:1, 96:13, Rom. 1:20).

To you before your passion
they sang their hymns of praise;
to you, now high exalted,
our melody we raise.
You didst accept their praises,
accept the prayers we bring,
Who in all good delightest,
O good and gracious King.

Finally, we are reminded of why we are singing these praises this day: Christ is going to the cross. He knew where this journey to Jeruslaem led, and He went because He loves us (John 3:16, Heb. 12:1-3). We call this the Triumphal Entry not because He was a conqueror of Rome but because He came to conquer death and the grave; He came to forgive our sins and buy us back (Gen. 3:15, Pro. 10:16, John 3:16, Rom. 5:1-19, 1 Cor. 15:55, Gal. 3:13). They praised Him before He died for us, how much more so should we sing praises to our Redeemer! We still sing “Hosanna!” The song then ends with a request: that the Lord, our Redeemer, may hear our prayers.

Blessings to you and yours,

~Rose


A Latin Version of the Hymn

“All Glory, Laud, and Honor”: Hymn, Tune, and History

Theodulf of Orleans

“THEODULF.” Britannica

“All Glory, Laud, and Honor”

“Valet will ich dir geben”

“Hosanna.” The Online Etymology Dictionary

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